Tour de France 2020: Mark Renshaw in awe of Mark Cavendish for scaling the mountain for a second time
"Somehow, he’s turned it around, and if anyone could do it, it was always going to be Mark Cavendish, so to see him back winning four stages in the Tour de France, I’m not shocked, but I’m in awe of what he’s achieved, knowing he came from rock bottom and climbed to the top of the ladder," Mark Renshaw said
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Cavendish’s career at the top level looked over when he struggled with the effects of Epstein–Barr virus. Reports swirled that he would retire in 2020, but towards the end of the year he secured a contract with Deceuninck-Quick Step and he was handed a slot on the Tour de France team due to an injury to Sam Bennett.
Fortune played a part in Cavendish being at the Grand Depart, but he grasped it with both hands as he has claimed four stage wins with a week of racing still to go.
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The comeback has left Renshaw in a state of awe.
“When I stopped in 2019, he still wasn’t back to his old level before he got the illness," Renshaw said in an interview with Eurosport France's Benoit Vittek. "He was still quite down, so to see him now so successful… I imagine he had some dark days and hard times to bounce back, but it shows his determination.
Somehow, he’s turned it around, and if anyone could do it, it was always going to be Mark Cavendish, so to see him back winning four stages in the Tour de France, I’m not shocked, but I’m in awe of what he’s achieved, knowing he came from rock bottom and climbed to the top of the ladder.
Cavendish’s win on Stage 13, his fourth of the race, took him level with Eddy Merckx on 34 Tour victories. His celebrations have been a joy to witness, and Renshaw feels people appreciate him more now he’s had to scale the mountain a second time.
Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
“While he was [winning], people didn’t want to like him because he was winning so much,” Renshaw said. “People like you until you start winning a lot, then when you start, people and the journalists start being ‘I’d rather somebody else wins’, and they don’t like you. Now we had a period of time when he didn’t win, and everybody obviously said: ‘He’s finished, he’s over, he’s never going to win again’. And then he made this big comeback to be the best again. It’s an amazing story. People love to see people coming back from hard times.”
Cavendish has put the spotlight on his team-mates for the support they have given him, and Renshaw believes the riders respond to his leadership skills.
“He’s a big personality,” Renshaw said. “He’s always been a leader.
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"Prior to the Tour de France, he would have been in the team with the same mentality. He’d still be that same guy who wants to bring the team together.
He has huge expectations from the other riders and for himself too. He was always the first person to jump up and want to help, because he’s had so much help during his career. His personality is very strong, he’s a leader and that’s what makes him a great sprinter.
“He really appreciates anybody that works hard for him. He always gives big bear hugs after the finish, cuddles with all the guys, and that’s his way. He gets pretty emotional.”